Before you let out a big “yuck!” let me explain that it’s not actually water taken from a toilet, but something pretty close: water taken from a faucet right next to a urinal.
I find that outrageous and disgusting.
The Starbucks in question is located on the first floor on the Bank of China Tower in Central Hong Kong.
Urinal Right Next To Starbucks’ Water Supply
According to HK Asia, every day a Starbucks employee pushed a cart with a big bucket to collect water from the male bathroom in the building’s car park. He did this numerous times every morning by connecting a plastic hose to the bathroom’s sink, turning on the tap to fill the bucket. The sink is just a couple of feet away from a urinal.
Once the bucket was full, he wheeled the cart back up to the coffee shop. At this point, the water was filtered before being used to brew coffee.
The company declared that they had to use water from the nearest water source as there is no direct water supply to the coffee shop. So why do they have a coffee shop there?
You can see photos of an employee allegedly doing his morning bucket duties by clicking here.
Not Just About The Water
“The issue that is more worrying is…the potential risk of transferring pathogens from the restroom environment into the Starbucks food preparation area,” Hong Kong University School of Public Health associate professor Benjamin Cowling said.
“I wouldn’t go to the restaurant in the first place if I knew they were having potentially risky hygiene practices,” Cowling said.
A lot of customers are very upset – even though the store has now promised that it is using distilled water, not ‘toilet water.’
“Making huge profits globally but chose [SIC] to use toilet water for making coffee in that store rather than spending a few cents to use distilled water,” wrote Hong Kong resident Kevin L on the Starbucks Hong Kong Facebook page.
“We pay a few dollars to buy a cup of coffee (and you know your profit margin) and we get this kind of disrespect for our mind and health!”
Hum, has this just been happening in Hong Kong, or could this be company practice worldwide?
Starbucks’ Tax Evasion
Not all news is good news, and this is not the first time that Starbucks has been in the headlines recently.
In October last year an investigation by Reuters news agency revealed that Starbucks had only paid £8m in corporation tax since arriving in Britain in 1998, despite generating sales of £3 billion. The investigation also revealed that the chain had paid no corporation tax at all since 2009.
Accounts showed that it minimized its tax burden by officially recording losses of tens of millions of pounds year after year.
There are over 200 Starbucks coffee shops within a 12-mile radius of Trafalgar Square, in the center of London, but they are all operating at a loss? Hard to believe, when you see the noise and hustle-bustle that these establishments produce.
Angry UK lawmakers complained vociferously that Starbucks, Google and Amazon are paying little or no tax on their earnings in Britain, even while they have racked up billions of dollars in sales.
As a result, in December last year, Starbucks pledged to pay around £10m each year for the following two years in corporation tax.
But they are still at it.
Bill Dodwell, head of tax policy at Deloitte, the firm that advises the coffee chain on its tax affairs, declared in April that the company is justified in not paying tax in the UK because it has not made any profits in the country.
On a more positive note, as of June 1, Starbucks’ policy forbids smoking within 25 feet of its stores, where local law allows. This applies to all stores in the U.S. and Canada.
Will that make up for the horror of toilet water?
Photo Credit: thinkstock